Mike DeWine, Governor
Lance D. Himes, Interim Director
John Husted, Lt. Governor
Re: Director’s Order that Provides Mandatory Requirements for Youth, Collegiate, Amateur, Club and Professional Sports
I, Lance Himes, Interim Director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), pursuant to the authority granted to me in R.C. 3701.13 to “make special orders … for preventing the spread of contagious or infectious diseases” Order the following to prevent and minimize the spread of COVID-19 in the State of Ohio:
1. Purpose: COVID-19 continues to present a substantial risk to Ohioans. As recognized by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and other authorities, participation in sports increases the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread. The risk of spread increases the more an athlete interacts with other athletes, the closer the physical interaction of the athletic participants, the longer the interaction, and the more sharing of equipment there is by multiple athletes, among other considerations. The lowest risk is where an athlete performs skill-building drills or conditions at home, alone or with family and household members. The risk increases when the athlete participates in a team-based practice. Competition between different teams creates more risk, with full competition between teams from different geographic areas creating the highest risk for athletes, their families, and their immediate communities. The global response to the pandemic prompted the shutdown of competitive sports at all levels. However, exercise and sports provide substantial public health benefits for youths and adults, including the promotion of mental and physical health and instilling discipline and structure for student athletes. These public health benefits must be balanced as Ohio continues to limit certain activities in minimizing the spread of COVID-19. This Order is intended to adopt a balance between these competing interests. However, the more COVID-19 spreads in a community, the higher risk there is to athletes and their respective communities as a whole. Public officials must continually reassess the risks and benefits to athletes and their community, and nothing in this Order prevents or discourages local public officials from imposing additional and more restrictive limitations on athletic activity, including adopting rules prohibiting all inter-team competition or competition between teams from disparate geographical areas.
By this Order, the Ohio Department of Health is adopting the minimum mandatory standards that must be complied with by all whom play, coach, officiate, or attend sports.